Simon Lee by William Wordsworth

Updated: Dec 14, 2019

How do we treat athletes after they have grown old and infirm? What does it feel like to once have been powerful and then to lose all power and strength?

In Wordsworth's Ballad, published in the 1798 Lyrical Ballads, he explores an incident he had with an old, one-eyed man named Christopher Trickey.

In his youth Trickey had been a strong huntsman with a wealthy family. Now they are all dead and he is impoverished and weak.

One day he is attempting to upturn a root with a farm tool, but he cannot do it. Wordsworth walks by and offers his help. In a single blow Wordsworth breaks the root and upturns it. Trickey, in tears, thanks Wordsworth.

Click here to download a pdf with my notes:




In the sweet shire of Cardigan,

Not far from pleasant Ivor-hall,

An old man dwells, a little man,

I've heard he once was tall.

Of years he has upon his back,

No doubt, a burthen weighty;

He says he is three score and ten,

But others say he's eighty.

A long blue livery-coat has he,

That's fair behind, and fair before;

Yet, meet him where you will, you see

At once that he is poor.

Full five and twenty years he lived

A running huntsman merry;

And, though he has but one eye left,

His cheek is like a cherry.

No man like him the horn could sound.

And no man was so full of glee;

To say the least, four counties round

Had heard of Simon Lee;

His master's dead, and no one now

Dwells in the hall of Ivor;

Men, dogs, and horses, all are dead;

He is the sole survivor.

His hunting feats have him bereft

Of his right eye, as you may see:

And then, what limbs those feats have left

To poor old Simon Lee!

He has no son, he has no child,

His wife, an aged woman,

Lives with him, near the waterfall,

Upon the village common.

And he is lean and he is sick,

His little body's half awry

His ancles they are swoln and thick

His legs are thin and dry.

When he was young he little knew

Of husbandry or tillage;

And now he's forced to work, though weak,

--The weakest in the village.

He all the country could outrun,

Could leave both man and horse behind;

And often, ere the race was done,

He reeled and was stone-blind.

And still there's something in the world

At which his heart rejoices;